The city of Tenino is a small community that is defined by its history – first as a railroad town, and then as the home of Tenino sandstone, a major building material prior to the widespread use of concrete. The community was also the home of Tenino Wooden Money, a local currency printed by Chamber of Commerce after the Citizen’s Bank of Tenino failed during the Great Depression.
Trains and Bikes?
Tenino was a stop on the original Northern Pacific transcontinental railroad. The rail line passed through in 1872, before heading northeast through Yelm to Tacoma. While this railroad is now gone, the line is home to the Yelm-Tenino Trail, a 14-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that travels through the glacial landscape of South Thurston County – past prairie-filled valleys, wooded hillsides and along lakes, wetlands and rivers.
Sandstone quarried in the community originally brought wealth to Tenino. Operation of local quarries halted with the acceptance of concrete as a building material, however, reminders of the community’s sandstone heritage are plentiful – from the swimming pool located in a former quarry, to public art pieces carved by a local stone carver, to the buildings in the historic downtown constructed from the building material.
Existing businesses in Tenino are primarily located along Highway 507 (Sussex Avenue), with concentrations seen in the historic downtown area and near the Tenino IGA Supermarket. Other must see items include: the Quarry Pool, the Tenino Depot Museum, and the Tenino Sandstone Company Block inventory – all located in the 54-acre City Park located on Park Avenue, south of the main drag.